B;;;;;;;;; ;;;;;;;;; and the aroma of barbecue smoke lure visitors across Summerhill Farm, a postcard-worthy spot between Park Rapids and Itasca State Park. Visitors stroll in and out of former chicken coops and barns that
house rugs and cabin decor, gourmet foods and wine, whimsical flags, and gi;s for
Summer can be the best season to shop in northwest Minnesota, when resort
towns such as Park Rapids, Walker and Detroit Lakes are in full swing. Tiny hamlets
like Dorset, along the easy-to-bike Heartland Trail, buzz with activity as shoppers
seek books for dockside reading, comfy slip-on shoes, and souvenirs that remind
them of life at the lake long a;er the fall winds blow trees bare.
Outside of summer, the region o;ers an enticing variety of year-round boutiques
and unique stores, from quaint and quirky to classy and chic. And don’t forget
practical: You can find everything for staying warm through the winter, whether
you’re seeking burly Paul Bunyan plaid or brightly colored snowmobile duds.
Here are eight northwest towns worthy of a shopping spree:
A rainbow of kayaks outside Reed’s Sporting Goods set the stage for outdoor fun
that begins less than a block away at Walker’s Leech Lake, one of Minnesota’s largest
bodies of water. The store is a good place to start for on-the-water advice, tackle and
outdoor gear (especially ice fishing or International Eelpout Festival essentials).
Walker’s downtown also a;racts
shoppers with clothing boutiques,
purveyors of kitchenware and locally
harvested wild rice, an old-fashioned
candy shop, and galleries featuring loons,
north woods art and photography.
This town’s classic Main Street bustles
with up-north boutiques selling
everything from cozy flannel pajamas
and moose-themed decor to cribbage
boards shaped like local lakes. Anyone
craving their own “man cave” shouldn’t
miss Toys for Boys on Highway 34
west of town. It’s loaded with 1950s
and ’60s collectibles (think Betty Boop
and Elvis), jukeboxes, pedal cars and
vintage garage signs.
Few visitors can resist a selfie with Paul
Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox on
the shore of Lake Bemidji, but don’t
miss a stroll across the street to stores
that reflect the city’s heritage and
culture. Find thick wool blankets and
lumberjack-inspired clothing at Bemidji
Woolen Mills, Native American cra;s at
Morell’s Chippewa Trading Post, and a
variety of gi; and souvenir shops—with
the added bonus of artsy sculptures
sca;ered throughout downtown.
For local artwork, check out the 1917 Old
Schoolhouse on the city’s southern edge
or the Great River Gallery.
Keep a camera handy for the 30 giant,
creatively painted sunfish that decorate
this popular resort town. Browse for gi;s
at Red Willow, find a new fabric at Red
Pine Quilt Shop, or pick up something
one-of-a-kind at Sulaine’s Antiques.
As home to one of the nation’s biggest
country music events—the three-day
WE Fest, held each summer—Detroit
Lakes is also the perfect place to snag
a superfan T-shirt.
Artistic gi;s and vibrant interpretations
of Red River Valley landscapes are on
display at the Rourke Art Museum in a
historic former post o;ce. To tap into
the area’s Scandinavian roots, head to
the Hjemkomst Center. Tucked into
an oxbow of the Red River, the iconic
museum was built around a replica
Viking ship that sailed to Norway in
1982, and o;ers a gi; shop rich with
cookbooks, history books and cra;s.
> CON TINUED ON PAGE 144
Up North Finds
Seek out sweet souvenirs for every type of shopper.
| LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK